Intellectual Property refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. This Friday 26th April 2013 we celebrate World Intellectual Property day and reflect on what the future creative landscape of Aotearoa will look like. What will be the big IP issues of the future?
Indigenous Intellectual Property rights
Arguably the current Intellectual Property laws in New Zealand are not adequate to protect Maori Intellectual and Cultural property, referred to as Traditional Knowledge. What is the best way to preserve, protect and fairly make use of traditional knowledge held by Maori? For example, if an indigenous culture has practiced traditional medicine using a particular plant for thousands of years, should a third party be able to obtain a patent for that plant for use as a weight loss product?
Internet file sharing and service provider liability
The way in which we consume art, literature, film and music has changed drastically in recent years. Arguably the artistic industry has lagged behind in adapting to these changes and this has led to the existence of such file sharing websites as Megaupload Limited. The law dealing with users who infringe Intellectual Property rights and the liability of service providers who provide the means of doing so is evolving and controversial.
Human Rights issues
Conflict can occur between IP rights and human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises a series of economic and social rights, such as the right to share in the benefits of scientific achievement. How is this right impacted by the patenting of a human gene? If someone discovers a gene that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer, should they be granted a patent to this gene? How do we balance the rights of others with the need to encourage investment in research and development?
International Trade Agreements
Trade Agreements often contain significant provisions regarding Intellectual Property laws. Negotiations for trade agreements are confidential and are not revealed publically, which means that the law changes are not subject to public scrutiny until after the agreements have been signed. A recent example is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) multilateral free trade agreement, which includes provisions relevant to IP.